Harrison Bader will get back into the lineup this week. But it won’t be with the Cardinals.
Bader, whose eight-for-78 tailspin sent his average to .195, was optioned to Class AAA Memphis on Monday and Lane Thomas, who has been with the Cardinals a couple of times this season, hitting .308 in 13 at-bats, was recalled from that club. Thomas homered three times on Saturday night for Memphis.
Randy Arozarena, a non-roster player hitting .367 with an OPS of over 1.000 at Memphis, will remain there for now, what with left fielder Marcell Ozuna likely to rejoin the Cardinals this weekend in California if his rehab assignment goes well at Memphis.
John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations, does not want to bring up Arozarena without having regular at-bats for him and a Cardinals outfield of Ozuna, Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez and Tyler O’Neill wouldn’t allow that.
Mozeliak, addressing Bader, said: “It’s been tough for him to get at-bats. He’s in a spot where he knows he’s going to be part of our future and we just want to get him going.”
Bader, who took over the center-field job when Tommy Pham was dealt to Tampa Bay last July, hit .264 with 12 homers and 15 stolen bases last year.
“Hopefully, it’s not for long,” said Mozeliak of Bader's send-down.
On Sunday, given a rare start, Bader struck out twice in four at-bats and didn’t get the ball out of the infield, often swinging wildly.
“He’s been struggling,” said Mozeliak. “And when you’re struggling, you’re often not making good decisions in the strike zone.”
Bader, 25, hit two homers in the first five games of the season and, after a dry spell, went on a streak capped by a three-hit game in New York before his family and friends on June 13. That boosted his average to .245, from which it tumbled dramatically in the next six weeks.